The western bank of the Chaophraya River, although originally a separate city, is now part of Bangkok. However, it's still known by its old name of Thonburi. The most recognizable sight on this side of the river is the old towering temple of the dawn, Wat Arun. Aside from this, there isn't much here to attract the short-term tourist. But, if you have the time, there are some interesting neighborhoods and other sights to poke around in.
Click on a sight for more information.
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- Wat Prayoon
- Its among Bangkok's quirkiest temples. The main feature is a large concrete mound set in a small pond full of turtles. The other temple buildings are exquisitely decorated, although the giant old whitewashed chedi is not well maintained.
- Santa Cruz Church
- Just north of Wat Prayoon is the old Portuguese community. In the middle of this area is the church of Santa Cruz, which is of the same curious mix of Portuguese and Chinese architecture that you find on Phuket.
- Pom Wichai Prasit Fort
- At the mouth of the Bangkok Yai canal stands the Pom Wichai Prasit fort, which once protected Bangkok from invading navies -- although it didn't keep out the European powers when they blockaded Bangkok in the late 19th century. The fort is now part of the navy's headquarters so its not open to the public, but the best vantage point to see it is from the river anyway.
- Wat Arun
- Its the star of many a travel poster for Bangkok and Thailand. The old temple with its tower prang has just been fully reopened after a reconstruction which took many years.
- Wang Lung Pier Area
- The deceptively pedestrian-looking area around the Wang Lung Pier hides some rather surprising finds. These include museums, markets, a theater and a very old temple. See our article on the Wang Lung Pier area for more information.
- Bangkok Noi Rail Station
- The unimpressive Bangkok Noi Rail Station service mostly commuter routes, but is the place to go to catch a train to Kanachanburi (River Kwai).
- Royal Barge Museum
- Facing the rail station from the other side of Bangkok Noi is the Royal Barge Museum. In the old days, at least once a year the king would travel downriver in procession on the barges to Wat Arun, where he would present new robes to the monks. This doesn't happen much any more, but the ancient barges are on display in the large shed of the museum.
The area of Thonburi around the west end of the Memorial Bridge (Saphan Phut in Thai) is actually one of the oldest settled areas of Bangkok. Back when Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam, this was the site of the main docks where ships from China and Europe would dock, and offload cargoes to be sent further up the river to Ayutthaya. The district was home to settlers from many countries, such as China and India, and later the Portuguese and other Europeans. It's an interesting area to explore, which you can do on foot with my walking tour.